Queenslander Ryan Fisher will complete a Rio reunion with men's team mates Aaron Royle, Ryan Bailie and Ashleigh Gentle, when he returns for his 2018 World Triathlon Series debut In Edmonton this weekend.
The Canadian capital will host the men’s and women’s WTS round seven over the sprint course as well as the WTS Paratriathlon Series race and a WTS Mixed Teams Relay.
The 27-year-old Fisher left the ITU circuit after Rio for a career in the 70.3 distance but returned last weekend to race for the Gold Coast Tritons in their second placed debut in the American Triathlon League Mixed Relay Series.
“I’ve been racing Ironman 70.3 since Rio and so far have been on the podium in all six events that I’ve raced in,” said Fisher.
“But I’m excited to step back into an ITU WTS race with it being just under two years since my last.
“Edmonton will be about a quarter of the race time compared to a 70.3 so I can’t wait to be back into a competitive and aggressive style of racing.
“After Edmonton I have one more MLT race in Vail (Colorado) then back onto the TT bike to prepare for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in South Africa.”
Fisher set his radar on Edmonton after the MLT race in Atlantic City but delayed and cancelled flights converted to 30 hours of travel before he arrived in Edmonton.
While his Rio team mates Royle and Bailie are coming off a mixed weekend in Hamburg – climaxed by Australia’s stirring silver medal in the ITU World Mixed Teams Relay Championship where Royle, Natalie Van Coevorden, the only remaining female from Rio, Ashleigh Gentle and Jake Birtwhistle who produced a barnstorming finish to seal their second place to France.
Adding to the Rio reunion will be Paralympian Brant Garvey (PTS2) who will be joined by Commonwealth Games silver medallist Emily Tapp (PTWC) to spearhead the Aussies into Saturday’s ITU World Paratriathlon Series races.
They will be joined by Jonathan Goerlach (PTVI), Clint Picken and Liam Twomey (PTS4) and Josh Kassulke (PTS5).
Garvey will face USA’s Mark Barr, fourth in the Rio Olympics and a silver medallist in last year’s World Championships.
In Saturday’s men’s sprint race it will be Royle, currently 19th on the WTS rankings pointscore, who will be returning to Edmonton for the fifth year in a row, where he has had “a mixed bag” of results.
“The added bonus of potentially racing twice this weekend with the relay is exciting - if you haven’t noticed I do love a relay race,” said Royle, a key player in Hamburg.
“It’s a short turn around since Hamburg just over a week ago, so I’ve been back in Leeds recovering before a few quality sessions and the travel across to Edmonton.’
Bailie had his first DNF in Hamburg after breaking at the start of the race and suffering a 10 second penalty.
“I misfired big time in Hamburg with my first ever DNF. I stewed on it for a couple of hours but now it’s time to reset and look ahead to Edmonton…,” said Bailie.
And while Birtwhistle produced another amazing anchor leg to run the Aussies from fifth to second in the riveting Hamburg relay dash, he wasn’t happy with his fifth in the individual.
He will come to Edmonton fired up to improve and run his way into the top three on the ITU WTS rankings.
Birtwhistle is currently fourth on the rankings on 2389 behind multiple world champion, Spain’s Mario Mola (4641), Frenchman Vincent Luis (3133) and South Africa’s Richard Murray (2506) with Bailie (1658) the next best Australian in 12th.
“Fifth in Hamburg wasn’t the result I went there for, so I was pretty frustrated about that but glad to move my way up the world rankings in fourth place,” said a determined Birtwhistle, looking to podium in Edmonton.
Birtwhistle and the boys from Rio will be joined by Commonwealth Games representative Luke Willian in the five-strong men’s team.
Van Coevorden, the best placed Australian in 12th place on the WTS rankings will be joined by Gentle (21st), Emma Jeffcoat, Charlottle McShane and former surf lifesaving ironwoman Kelly-Ann Perkins making her WTS Series debut.
The inclusion in the World Championship silver medal winning relay team has given Van Coevorden a huge confidence boost.
“I tagged Aaron (Royle) some 10 seconds down off the first tag and knew I couldn’t have done anything more,” said Van Coevorden, back in the team for Hamburg for the first time since 2012.
“The rest of the race was a rollercoaster and Team Australia was amazing to finish up second for the day. I felt privileged to be part of an event I had watched on the sidelines for years and learnt a lot about this new, fast and short side of triathlon,” said Van Coevorden.
“And I hope to get more opportunities in the future- next up WTS Edmonton.”
Jeffcoat was part of the MLT team with Jaz Hedgeland, Brandon Copeland and Fisher in Atlantic City.
“I headed to the first round of Major League Tri with the Tritons last weekend for the Mixed Teams Relay event and I had a great leg for the team and pulled us back 90 secs,” said Jeffcoat.
“It was awesome fun, racing and perfect heading into Edmonton, ready to rip into one tough course on Friday.”
Located in the heart of Edmonton’s stunning William Hawrelak Park on the edge of the famous River Valley, this sprint distance race promises loads of excitement in a stacked field.
This year WTS Edmonton will feature racing in the early evening, drawing spectators down to the park to see the action packed short course races. Paratriathlon, Elite Men and Elite Women race on Friday and Mixed Relay goes off Saturday, promising a busy and exciting weekend on the triathlon calendar.
Paratriathlon [Fri 27 July 13:45 local ] | Sat 28 July 5:45am AEST
Women [Fri 27 July 17:36 local ] | Sat 28 July 9:30am AEST
Men [Fri 27 July 19:21 local ] | Sat 28 July 11:30am AEST
Mixed Relay [Sat 28 July 16:05 local ] | Sun 29 July 8:05am AEST